Friday, April 19, 2013

Three Flower Festivals in May...and a Joke

So two older couples have dinner and afterwards the women go in the kitchen to clean up. Still at the table, one man says to the other: "Oh, we had such a wonderful meal the other night!'

The friend of course asks "Where?"

The first gentleman knits his brow, stares into space, is clearly struggling to remember the name.  Silence, silence, silence. Finally, he's got it. "Rose!" he calls out.

"Rose?" his friend asks. "The name of the restaurant was Rose?"

"No!" says the first man, then calls into the kitchen. "Rose! What was the name of that restaurant?"

Ever since I heard that one, that's what I think of when I hear the word 'rose.' And with that, here are three upcoming festivals you might enjoy...

1. At the Villa Eprussi in St. Jean Cap Ferrat... 
The 4th annual Roses and Plants Festival at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (two photos above) is May 10th through 12th. I recently visited the villa for the first time and it's wonderful in every way. So if you're anywhere near St. Jean Cap Ferrat during the second weekend in May, this would definitely be worth a detour. Thirty or so international exhibitors are expected: rose growers, nurseries and gardening professionals. The event attracted 10,000 visitors over its three days last year. The event pays homage to Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild, who was extremely passionate about flowers and plants; she created nine different gardens around her villa in 1912, with help of her architect/landscaper, Harold Peto. The Rose and Plant Festival will take place in the French garden. English roses, modern roses, exotic flowers, and all sorts of rare and Mediterranean plants will be on display, while  the famous perfumer Fragonard, an event partner. will be sharing its rose-based fragrances. The weekend schedule includes garden visits, gardening workshops, presentations and talks by the French rose society, the Société Française des Roses. If you've never visited the Villa itself, read The Hare with Amber Eyes before you go....a terrific read even if you're not about to visit one of the family's legendary homes. The Villa, its Tea Room and the Gardens are open from 10 am to 6 pm all weekend; it's 8 km from Nice and 12 kms from Monaco. Your entry ticket to the Villa gets you admission to the flower show as well. Full price tickets are 12.50€ and reduced rates (kids, families, students, journalists, unemployed, etc.) are available.  For all the info, click here.

2. At the Palais des Papes in Avignon...

The Ninth Annual Alterarosa Festival of Roses (above) will be at Palais des Papes in Avignon from May 9 to May 12, 2013. In the prestigious Benoit XII cloister, at least ten major rose-growers from France and abroad will be showing off more than 2000 rosebushes and providing a sneak preview of new varieities. Some 20,000 visitors are expected. The weekend includes conferences, workshops and more. This year’s celebration of roses (always a fundraiser for charity) shares the spotlight with hydrangeas. The best place to park is the Parking Palais des Papes.Tickets: 7€ and 5€. The festival is open during Palace opening hours, which are 9 am to 7 pm. Last entry is at 6 pm. For the website in English, click here

3. In the Village of Grasse... 

The 43rd Annual International Rose Expo in Grasse will be May 8 to 12. To kick off the event, there will be concert of the music of Edith Piaf on May 8th at 8 pm in the Espace Chiris. (Concert tickets are 25€ and you can get them at the Tourist Office.) The Expo Rose takes place on the Cours Honore Cresp and in the gardens and rooms of the Villa-Musée Fragonard, the Grasse Cathedral and the Palais des Congrès. Expect to see more than 50,000 flowers! Grasse is a world perfume capital, with 20 farms cultivating flowers for scent. Additionally, the village has 30 or so perfume factories serving the global market and ingredients are sent here from all over the world to be transformed into perfume. In addition to the Expo Rose, Grasse hosts a Jasmine Festival every year in early August. Entry to Expo Rose is 5 € per person and it runs from 9:30 am to 7 pm. My peeps in the Grasse Tourist Office tell me a good place to park is on the Cours Honoré Cresp (just in front of Palais des Congrès) but that you'll also find parking in town (at Martelly and La Foux for example ). For more info on Grasse and the Rose Expo, click here and here.

*UPDATE: Reader Nathalie Delmotte was kind enough to remind me about another festival for plant lovers, this one happening this weekend (April 20-21) in Serignan du Comtat. It's the 15th Annual Rare Plants and Natural Gardens festival and the theme this year is “Mediterranean Variation.'' Louisa Jones, who's been writing about Mediterranean gardens for more than 30 years, is guest of honor. (Her most recent book, Mediterranean Landscape Design, is here.) The aim of this 15th year will be to highlight plants and gardening activities best suited to the Mediterranean region (arid-soil plants, water savings, clean gardening methods etc.). Over 100 nursery collectors will be present, alongside Italian and Catalan experts. Scheduled for this year: in-the-field excursions, activities centered on practical themes, scientific workshops and fun for kids. All programs are in French. A 6€ ticket gives access to everything; kids under 15 are free. For info:  


  1. Dear Julie,

    There is another flower festival that may interest your readers: it's this weekend of 20-11 April, in Sérignan-du-Comtat near Orange . It's a festival of Rare Plants and Natural Gardens. You can visit for the programme that includes conferences, animations and exhibitions though it's all in French.

    I agree that Edmund de Waal's story 'The Hare with Amber Eyes' relates an incredible journey and the Villa Ephrussi is not to be missed for its gardens and views of the mediterranean sea.

    I also got the chance a few years ago to visit the Expo Rose in Grasse. The roses' perfumes and colours are a feast.

    Best wishes,

  2. Hi Julie, just returned from your part of the world. So sorry I'll be missing these fabulous flower shows, since I am a garden writer. Alas, I'll be back in Sept. The apartment in Avignon was 18th century and lovely. Mrs. G